Greed motivated these skinheads the Omaha.com headline informs. Specifically, “What motivated the group was much simpler than the race-based ideology of some of its members, said Mickey Leadingham, the resident agent in charge of Omaha’s field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. ‘It was greed.'” And there I was thinking greed was good. Well, it is, if you’re a federal agent targeting racist skinheads for a headline grabbing bust. It makes everything so much easier. After all, “Operation Red Swastika was the first time that law enforcement officers tried the approach in Nebraska, authorities and prosecutors said. Violent groups that use home invasions to steal — and then sell — drugs and weapons aren’t often seen in this region.” But we can’t let a little thing like that stop the long arm of the law, can we? I mean, if hardened criminals don’t usually do home invasions—considering that most Nebraskans are not entirely unfamiliar with the rudiments of a firearms-based home defense—perhaps Johnny Law could kinda, you know, suggest it? You know, in theory.
In January 2009, the agent met Hawthorne and 28-year-old Michael Davis to buy methamphetamine. The two asked the agent if he knew of any home invasions or robberies they could commit to steal guns or drugs.
“They happened to meet up, contact the undercover agent and suggest the outcome,” Moran said. “And we went with it.”
Isn’t it wonderful when things just happen to go your way? I’m thinking out loud here, but mightn’t it have been a good idea for the “agent” to say to the not-the-sharpest-tools-in-the-box felons that “Home invasions suck.” ‘Cause you don’t really want to encourage them to attempt to enact this particular greed-satisfaction scenario. At least not without careful supervision.
Federal authorities set an elaborate trap for the gang. They fabricated a story about a supposed drug supplier who could be robbed of large quantities of cocaine and meth.
Three days later, the agent discussed the supposed raid with Hawthorne, Davis and two other men at a bar near 84th and Q Streets.
After some thought, Hawthorne and his team accepted the job.
Ah, the old “after some thought” thing. Skinhead supremacist felons are not generally known for their tendency to carefully weigh the pros and cons of a given criminal enterprise. One wonders if the agents, now fully committed to the trap (including giving it its own media-friendly name), helped their targets along in that thought process.
At 6:15 p.m. on Feb. 26, 2009, Hawthorne and three associates arrived at the agent’s undercover apartment. They had decided to wear black to make the robbery look like a police raid. They had no idea there was no drug-filled house to rob. Federal agents and police SWAT teams captured them later that night.
When the betrayal was complete, Hawthorne didn’t see the agent. Authorities whisked him away from the takedown site, and Hawthorne wouldn’t learn that he had been duped by law enforcement until later.
“I think he thought I was a snitch,” the agent said.
Oh, and how did the guns in the “money shot” picture released to the press [above] come to be “purchased by an undercover federal agent from the gun and drug ring”? [Note: “the” not “a.”] If the weapons came into police hands via Operation Red Swastika’s fake home invasion, then the guns were chosen by the cops and never spent a moment in the criminals’ possession. If there was another operation, why aren’t we reading about that? Just sayin’.